25 February 2016
Destruction of our once proud Air Force. The sad case of our missing planes and pilots
By Mike Smith
26th of February 2016
Living in South Africa can be very amusing sometimes when one has to deal with blacks. For instance their flatout denial of theft or stupidity whenever they are caught out having stolen or broken something. It is never them. The thing broke itself or a fairy Tokoloshe stole it, etc.
Take our illustrious Minister of Defence (and military Veterans) , Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, for instance. When asked in parliament why our pilots are being trained at huge costs in Russia and Cuba, she said that we have no planes for training, because The white pilots who were phased out due to Affirmative Action stole the planes and sold them to museums
See? You couldn’t make this shit up even if you tried.
When EFF member, Leigh-Ann Mathys, urged her to go and get the planes back, and even offered to help get them back, she suddenly did not know which museums have the planes.
So where are our planes?
In December 2010 Denel Aviation, Armscor and the South African Air Force (SAAF) jointly sold 12 Cheetahs to Ecuador for US$78.4 million
These Cheetah’s (still in excellent condition) were modified French Mirage III’s and based on the Israeli Kfir fighters. The modernisation by Denel (with Israeli assistance) consisted of a complete renovation of the airframe, implementation of fixed canards, two new weapon points on the wings, a new in-flight refuelling intake, new ejection seats and a more powerful engine. It also included more sophisticated avionics, radar and self protection. The SAAF started the withdrawal of the Cheetah aircraft in the late 1990’s.
What replaced them?
SA bought 26 Gripen fighter jets (17 single-seat Gripen Cs and nine two-seat Gripen Ds) from Sweden at a cost of R19 Billion. Three years ago Minister Mapisa-Nqakula announced that 12 Gripens were mothballed and in long term storage apparently due to a lack of money.
So where is the money?
Stolen of course. In the pockets of the ANC.
And the pilots?
A report in the Raport Newspaper says that four of only the handful of jet fighter pilots in the SAAF have resigned leaving the force with three times as many Gripens as qualified pilots for them. Another two test pilots based at AFB Overberg, home of the Test Flight and Development Centre (TFDC), have not had their contracts renewed. The report also has it that about 10 pilots from 2 Squadron at AFB Makhado have been selected for further training in Russia. Four pilots are already undergoing training in Cuba Pilots training in Russia and Cuba
In its 2010/2011 report, the Department of Defence said that due to underfunding, the number of flight hours per Gripen aircrew member was reduced from 224 to 110 per year. At present the SAAF can only muster six qualified Gripen pilots who only have 150 flying hours available across the whole Gripen squadron. The annual target for fighter flying hours was 250.
Defence analyst Helmoed-Römer Heitman noted the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) requires fighter pilots to log at least 20 flight hours per month (240 flight hours per year per fighter pilot) to remain qualified.
And the training planes in the Museums?
According to Captain Phil Parsons in an open letter quoted on "defenceWeb 25th of February 2016... See this link:
Before the Gripens, SA pilots trained on 1950 Harvards. A fleet of brand new Pilatus PC-7 Mk II trainers were introduced in the 90's and all the old Harvards were put up for auction. Most were bought by the Americans with only a few remaining in SA in the hands of private owners. If it wasn't for the Harvard Club attached to the SAAF museum “stealing” the aircraft, almost every last one would be in Florida or California.
Simply put, the second oldest Air Force in the world, once the pride of the South African nation, has been run into the ground.